Angela Duckworth and the Research on ‘Grit’
Grit is resolve and stamina that is kept up for years. Grit has become a popular word recently among educators and parents. In fact, one educator sparked a conversation that is leading to new understanding of what grit means and how it works in humans. Angela Lee Duckworth Angela Lee Duckworth, educator and grit researcher
Angela Lee Duckworth is a pioneering researcher in the field of education, specifically about grit and its effect on educational outcomes. Grit refers to a long-term passion and commitment to the pursuit of long-term goals. Grit has been shown to be an excellent predictor of success in a wide range of fields including: at-risk kids and graduation, spelling bee results, teachers teaching in tough neighborhoods, and sales success.
Not too long ago, whether a student worked hard or not was considered something in his or her nature. Teachers across the country encountered students every year with differing levels of stamina, follow-through, and grit. One teacher took her observations to another level. At age 27, Angela Lee Duckworth left management consulting and became a 7th grade math teacher. She noticed that her top performers were not always the smartest kids, and that the smartest kids didn’t always do well compared to less intelligent classmates. After a few years in the classroom Angela decided to pursue a graduate degree in psychology to learn more about grit and self-control. Self-control is closely related to grit; the main difference is that self-control measures the ability to resist temptations related to shorter term goals, while grit is more concerned with very long-term goals. Since that time, Angela has been involved in a lot of research on grit. She uses guiding questions to help focus her work with the topic.
Grit is the perseverance of effort, and is a character trait that we can naturally have more or less of, depending on our upbringing. Duckworth discovered that grit, like any skill, can be learned! The best way to develop grit or mental toughness is by not giving to your emotions but learning how to handle such situations better. The main point is to learn to manage and control your fears and anxiety. By doing this you will become tenacious and strong willed.
There is a lot about grit that Angela Lee Duckworth admits we do not yet know, but she is gritty about pursuing this knowledge. However, with regard to education, Duckworth believes that caution should be used when measuring grit, due to the limitations of existing methods, such as teacher-report questionnaires, performance tasks and self-report questionnaires. Using imperfect methods of measurement can lead to misdiagnosing students.
From what I understand Angela to say, passion and perseverance work together to form grit and it is grit which makes you accomplish great things in your life. You have to be passionate about your goals and you must have perseverance to overcome fear and failure to reach those goals that is her definition of Grit, but I think that you can achieve this by creating positive habits in your life that can when done over time create mental toughness and Grit in your life. The key is the right sequential action that create the positive habits.
Duckworth recounted going to The United States Military Academy, commonly known as West Point, to study the factors that may contribute to cadets dropping out within the first year of attendance after achieving monumental success prior to being accepted to West Point. A metric — the Whole Candidate Score — that combines measures of academic success, physical fitness and leadership experience — was a poor predictor of the ability to persevere during the first months at West Point, Duckworth said.
“Grit keeps you going through that difficult experience,” Duckworth said. “Talent does not guarantee that you will show up when others have gone home.”
Angela Duckworth uses research and experimental based examples to define what grit is, how its important, and how we are affected by it inwardly and outwardly. Duckworth shares an a story about the United States Military Academy named West Point – a highly competitive four year academy. In selecting applicants, the admissions officers relied heavily on a different set of parameters believed to select the toughest soldiers, however, this was not a reliable predictor of who would make it through the 7 week process that turns people accepted into West Point from civilians to cadets. It was proved that neither of the popularly accepted skills had much to do with who made it through. That rather it was not lack of ability but the never giving up attitude that differentiated the winners from losers. A perfect mix of passion and perseverance is required to achieve long term goals. Using grit measurements, Angela and her team have been able to predict which cadets were most likely to avoid dropping out of West Point.
Grit or intelligence?
More often than not, one requires more grit than intelligence to succeed. No one is child born genius. Success on tasks often depend passion and perseverance. The famous physicist, Albert Einstein readily comes to mind as someone who employed where it matters. At age 2, he could not speak, neither was he able to write at 7. Due to these problems, he started school very late. He often asked very stupid and seemingly unintelligent questions to his teachers. Everyone looked down on him. But once he learned that hardwork could help him improve, he became transformed. He worked very hard, hours or days of practice makes him a very genius in Maths and Physics. According to Einstein,”Genius is 1% talent and 99% handwork”. Einsten found his passion and put in a lot of time and effort to master it and the world is better off for it with his far reaching theories and inventions.


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